Encyclopedia of Scientific Dating Methods

2015 Edition
| Editors: W. Jack Rink, Jeroen W. Thompson

Amino Acid Racemization, Paleoclimate

  • Matthew CollinsEmail author
  • Beatrice Demarchi
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6304-3_74


Amino acid racemization (AAR): changes in the chirality of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, resulting from the time-and-temperature-driven breakdown of proteins. AAR is used in the geosciences as a relative dating technique, typically comparing the ratio of D/L amino acid enantiomers in biominerals.

Paleoclimate: the complex interrelated changes brought upon by temperature shifts caused by orbital forcing of the geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and anthroposphere throughout Earth’s history.


The level of racemization in any one sample is in effect a measure of the integrated time/temperature history (thermal age) that accounts for the observed degree of protein diagenesis. Therefore the contribution of amino acid racemization (AAR) to understanding past climate changes is twofold: it can be used either as a geochronological tool, to reconstruct the timing of major climatic events, or (less commonly) as a paleothermometer in the case of...
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.BioArCh, Department of ArchaeologyUniversity of YorkYorkUK